A letter sent to residents in the Goodyear neighborhood of Palm Valley shows that they will soon vote on a proposal that would ban level two or level three sex offenders from living in the community.
Part of the letter explains some of the concerns that apparently prompted the proposal:
“WHEREAS, the Association has determined that Level 3 and Level 2 registered sex offenders present an unreasonable danger to the members of the Association due to 1) the Registrant’s access to the common areas of the Association to which all members have access, and 2) the members must travel within the community to enter and exit the Association and to use the common areas within the community, both of which expose the members, occupants and others, especially children, to contact with the Registrant on a frequent and continuing basis.”
The letter also states that anyone who already lives in the neighborhood that is a level two or three sex offender, even if they’re the owner of the property, would be forced to vacate and could no longer live there if passed.
Curtis Ekmark, the attorney representing the Palm Phase 1 HOA, explained why board members want to pass the policy.
"The board was thinking abut making their community more safe; more secure for their children," Ekmark said.
He explained that the state legislature had passed a law last year, stating that it was legal for homeowner associations to prohibit sex offenders if their community documents state it.
The letter does not explain how many level two or three sex offenders currently live in the neighborhood or if a specific person or incident caused the proposal.
ABC15 also spoke with real estate attorney Bob Sewell, from the firm Davis Miles McGuire Gardner, and he said that there's nothing stopping an HOA from passing the policy, but it would come with risks.
"I would advise them that if they plan to do it, expect a lawsuit," Sewell said. "You may end up with a lawsuit and you may not win that lawsuit."
Level one sex offenders are not mentioned in the proposal, and would still be allowed to live in the neighborhood.
Advocacy groups who helped sex offenders get back on their feet after prison were extremely concerned and "saddened" after hearing about this proposed policy."
"It's mean spirited because these people have done their time, they've paid their punishment and they should be allowed to re-integrate into our communities," said Donna Leone Hamm the executive director of Middle Ground Prison Reform Advocacy Organization.
She added that banning them from living in communities would make it harder for sex offenders to find homes, as they were already prohibited by law from living near schools, parks, and child care facilities.
She questioned why the HOA was targeting sex offenders, when other criminals like burglars and drug abusers had a much higher rate of recidivism.
The neighborhood will hold its annual membership meeting for its Palm Valley Community Association on Friday, Dec. 2.